Stockholm (NordSIP) – In March this year, Swedish mutual insurance group Länsförsäkringar announced the launch of a competition to reward the mutual fund (among those currently on the institution’s platform) who has performed the best efforts in terms of improving the sustainability of their investments or investment strategy.
Earlier in the year, Länsförsäkringar invited individual fund managers from several asset management companies to submit a description of their most sustainable initiative in 2019. To participate, the fund managers had to describe both a particular action and its impact from a sustainability perspective and preferably relate to one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Participation was entirely voluntary; each management company was allowed to submit one or several contributions.
The contest attracted 35 submissions from 23 different companies. After reviewing all the entries, a jury composed of both Länsförsäkringar’s internal specialists and outside sustainable investment experts discussed the various entries and identified a shortlist of nominated funds. The panel included Kristoffer Dreiman, Managing Director, Responsible Investment at Länsförsäkringar, Hanna Setterberg, PhD, Sustainable Finance researcher at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), Bidita Chakraborty, Sustainability Manager at Morningstar, Christina Hillesöy, Head of Sustainability at Länsförsäkringar, Jim Rotsman, Head Funds & Guarantee at Länsförsäkringar and yours truly, Aline Reichenberg Gustafsson, Editor in Chief at NordSIP.
The jury identified two categories among the candidates: those who showcased a particular corporate engagement and active ownership effort and those who explained a change or an initiative to strengthen the sustainability of their investment strategy. Länsförsäkringar provided each finalist with the opportunity to record a short video presenting their contribution. (All the videos are available for viewing on the same page as individuals are invited to vote.)
Three funds made it into the active engagement category: DNB Grönt Norden, East Capital Ryssland and Länsförsäkrinar’s own real estate fund. The second category includes five funds: BNP Paribas Global Environment, Handelsbanken Hållbar Energi, Länsförsäkringar’s own corporate bond fund, Länsförsäkringar’s USA Aktiv (managed externally by Fisher Investments) and Schroders ISF Global Climate Change Equity.
According to Jim Rotsman, Director at Länsförsäkringar, “the competition aims to generate interaction with customers and to show concrete examples of what the funds in Länsförsäkringar’s offering do in terms of sustainability,” he commented in Swedish.
While the initiative targets especially the organisation’s customers, the votes are open to anyone, and it is, therefore, a great opportunity to express your own opinion about what initiative you believe to be the most sustainable.
“It has been both worthy and interesting to go through the contributions, and there are many good examples of concrete sustainability achievements among the funds in the range we offer. It was a rewarding challenge to appoint the finalists,” said Kristofer Dreiman, who chaired the jury.
From my personal experience, I can say that being part of the jury was especially interesting for someone who, like me, has encountered a very high number of fund managers over the past four years and talked to countless counterparts about the challenges of measuring and evaluating sustainability. Comparing the merits of each submission, head to head, was indeed tricky given the very different approaches that managers take and the full breadth of strategies under consideration. To the question “What is more sustainable?” we considered different shades, such as “What action will make the most difference?” or “What measure is more innovative and original?”. All-in-all, to make the cut, funds had to show a structured approach but also a high level of “intentionality”, a word often used in the world of impact, which may be relevant in the context of evaluating managers’ sustainability as well.
Let us hope that this list of finalists and, even more so, the winners (which will be announced on April 15) will help inspire the asset management community further and that the submissions next year will be even better – making the jury’s work even harder than this year!
Don’t forget to vote! The deadline is on Sunday, April 12.
Photo courtesy of Länsförsäkringar